The Independent can confirm that the tradition of having scantily-clad women holding up numbered boards inside the ring before each round has been scrapped for Saturday night’s rematch in Diriyah in order to respect the local laws.
From the moment that the rematch of the 1 June contest was handed to Saudi Arabia, a decision was taken to not include any ring girls throughout the event in order to prevent any controversy arising within the country.
But while the move will be welcomed by critics who believe the inclusion of ring girls is an age-old tradition that boxing would be wise to do away with regardless of location, the decision will add to the calls against the fight being staged in Saudi Arabia at all.
The government imposes strict rules on women living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that places certain requirements on what they have to wear in public, which includes this Saturday’s heavyweight title bout.
Promoters Matchroom and Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, the chairman of the General Sport Authority in Saudi Arabia, have already had to strongly defend the decision to stage the bout in the Middle East, which followed a reported $70m [£54m] bid to beat New York and various other tenders to the hosting rights.
There will also be no female fighters on the bill this weekend, despite Irishwoman Katie Taylor being included on the undercard last June in her victory over Delfine Persoon.
Earlier this year, the WWE had its female superstars perform in unfamiliar full-length clothing in order to respect the culture – a far more modest than the bikini-style outfits usually worn by the likes of Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks. The move by the wrestling organisation was in response to the fierce backlash they faced followed their initial spay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, in which women were left off the match card entirely.